Approximately 75 people attended James’ oath of office ceremony at Julian Smith Barbeque Pit.
“This is one of my proudest selections,” City Administrator Fred Russell said of James’ hiring.
James, who served as the interim fire chief after Chief Howard Willis and three other top department administrators retired under pressure in September, entertained the crowd with lessons he learned in childhood that brought him to where he is today.
When he took a less-than-appealing report card to his father, the older James replied, “When you grow up, you’re going to make your money one of two ways: with your back or with your mind.”
James said that discussion pushed him to became a better, wiser man. Both his parents taught him the value of discipline and hard work, he said.
“These are the types of traits that I plan on bringing to this job – being fiscally responsible with the citizens’ money and working extremely hard,” James said.
He was the unanimous choice out of the three finalists presented to the commission for the fire chief job, Russell said.
During his interview withthe Augusta Commission, James, who has 25 years’ experience with the Augusta-Richmond County Fire Department, discussed issues he has seen as interim chief and presented the commission with an 18-page strategic plan.
“He’s done a lot for the fire department, and we expect him to do a lot more,” Russell said.